| | | | Movement Demo: Seesaw Walk to Burpee

Author / John

[youtube width=”540″ height=”303″]http://youtu.be/ihy8Rt-lq2o[/youtube]

For the second installment of the Power Athlete Warm Up Series, we introduce two movements: the Seesaw Walk to Burpee. The movement demo includes Progression 1 of the Seesaw Walk immediately followed by what we refer to as the athletic burpee. In Power Athlete circles the burpee is used as a tool to challenge our universal athletic position. And you just thought it was programmed for the suck factor.

In the video, observe Cali going through the seesaw walk, focus on her solid posture and position; stable and locked in trunk, neutral spine and neck and her attention to detail as she moves through space. If you are paying close attention to the videos (or even attended a CFFB seminar) you will start to see a theme with these warm ups.

Our objective with the Seesaw Walk is to work for an active hamstring stretch on the planted leg; remember to focus on maintaining proper position through the entire movement. We can not stress enough, but this warm up only illicit the proper response if the athlete maintains proper position. So if your movement falls apart and your position breaks, you need to FIX IT. Watch Cali’s midline from the side view and again from back. From the side, notice the straight line from her elevated and dorsi flexed foot’s heel, locked quad, neutral hips, short ribcage, retracted shoulder girdle and through the top of her neutral head. From the rear, listen as Luke drops the cue for Cali to internally rotate her hip for a ‘flat hip shelf’, or in other words hips are parallel with ground and in line with the rest of her midline. When first attempting the seawalk walk, your midline stability will be challenged, as well as your balance and body control the moment your foot leaves the ground.

A secondary purpose this movement provides is to assess the mobility of the hips and the hamstring. You may find a limiting factor and/or imbalance in your hamstrings that needs to be adddressed. Whether it be stability, mobility or flexibility this is another great tool to improve an athlete’s performance. Also, it should be noted, the athlete is working towards a “soft lock” on the planted leg. If at first, the planted leg needs to bent to make the movement possible, we will allow it as long as there is a hamstring stretch and position is maintained. John goes into some depth here about hamstrings and how important they are to knee health.

Now for the Burpee. Here we discuss the Power Athlete athletic position and a simple way to challenge it and thus reinforce it. The athletic position is universal to all athletes and can be observed across many different sports. In football, tennis, rugby, hockey and baseball this “A-frame” athletic position is observed everywhere. The setup for this is simple; feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with knees tracking above the inside ankle, toes pointing forward, hip pushed back, short rib cage, chest up and head neutral. Basically, like you are a linebacker waiting on the snap of the ball, a tennis player ready to return a serve, or shortstop preparing to turn a double play. By introducing this position, we create awareness and preparedness for our athletes; locked and loaded and ready for anything. For many this may be very natural, for others not so much but we want you to establish this position, then challenge it by adding movement.

During the demo, you may have thought Cali missed a vital component of the burpee, but this is not the case. While the burpee can be an amazing metabolic conditioning tool, it can be so much more. In Power Athlete land, we use the burpee as a tool to force an athlete to move through different planes of motion while returning back to position, thus reinforcing the athletic position. A limiting factor for this movement can be the push up, and since our goal is to challenge posture and athletic position, not upper body strength, we omit to from the movement.  Many of your may scream….why!? Mainly, because we have seen too many of these… 

[youtube width=”540″ height=”303″]http://youtu.be/Uyu7r6EdukE[/youtube]

Even if your goal is to use the burpee just for conditioning, we strongly believe you can elevate an athlete’s heart rate while keeping priority on good positioning.  This variation of the burpee may not be the fastest; but then again, we need to ask what are you training for?  When it comes to training movement and position speed is just another “stress.”  If going fast pays your bills, then you certainly need to learn how to go fast.  Allow me to preface this with, speed should only be added once perfect movement is established.  If you adhere to this pillar of the Power Athlete program you will continue to progress and avoid the dreaded plateau.

The best way to master anything is to throw it into the workout when you are fresh…think warm up.


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John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.


  1. Jwood!! on July 8, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Awesome Demo! Took the seminar about a year and a half ago and it is nice to have some of these warmups refreshed.
    Ping Pong, Tennis, Baseball, Linebacker Stance, Patty Cake, LIGHTSABERS!!
    Love it!

  2. Ingo B on July 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I laughed pretty hard. Battlestar Galactica references always get me.

  3. Ty Wall on July 9, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Great demo. I have a question however. Is that the ideal foot position for a burpee? That is how I used to do it, but I have since changed since I learned differently from Kelly Starret and Carl Paoli. They say to do it with feet together in both positions, so your knees are safer driving out rather than faulting in. To me, this makes a lot of sense compared to the other way, because when people start to get sloppy deep into their wods/conditioning, they fault to those positions in the second video. Cali’s form looked great, but I think it would be more difficult to come into those poor positions if you are focused on keeping the feet together. I’d love to hear some thoughts.

    • luke on July 9, 2013 at 10:16 am

      Training recommendations are NOT as simple as right or wrong.

      What Are You Training For?

      Kelly and Carl give recommendations on position for CrossFit athletes. Our recommendations are for developing field sport athletes. That context is ESSENTIAL when describing optimal or suboptimal movement and position.

      A field sport athlete who finds themselves on the ground (tripping, falling, contact, etc.) must know how to quickly find a position that is optimal multi-directional and multiplane movement. That is the positioning we describe in this post, it is NOT feet together! Thus, everything in their training should reinforce this position, even BURPEES!

      When doing a CrossFit workout for time or reps that includes burpees as a movement, the planes and direction of movement are typically the same rep after rep. You don’t need to regain position, evaluate the field of play, and/or prepare for contact. You just need to GO!!!

      Hope that helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.

  4. Ingo B on July 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Testimonial: this concept came into play last night during a game (volleyball). I dove for a few shots a last night. The ones where I paid attention to solid positioning, I was able to pick up, then easily get back to my feet and into the game. The ones where I got careless, I was late to recover and essentially out of play for a few touches, which is a huge no-no in my sport.

    Good stuff. Live long and prosper.

  5. tywall on July 24, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Luke, I couldn’t have asked for a better answer. That really clears things up for me. I’m not training to be the best at burpees. I’m training to be an athletic beast. I’m going to use your position from here on out as it suits my goals.

    I have one more question. Why are the podcasts only a half hour long? I feel like they’re over just as soon as they’re started. You guys bring a lot to the table and I can imagine theres enough talk for a full hour. Either way, thanks!

    • Luke on August 8, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      Ty, good to hear my man! They’re only a half hour because that’s all the time we have right now! I’m sure you’ll see some episodes float towards the hour marker in the near future! Thanks for contributing.

  6. Geoff Wai on October 24, 2016 at 1:10 am

    Luke, went through the site and took a while to find part 1 and 2 of the warm-up series. Part 3 had the tag, but not the first two.

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